This year has been a particularly challenging year if you are a monarch butterfly. All over the summer range of the monarch folks have been lamenting the paucity of sitings. We should be at the height of migration and I’ve seen a total of three monarch–two on vector flight patterns and one seemingly search for ovipositing sites. Honestly, I hope that a few more will show soon but I have no idea how long until or even if the migration phenomenon recovers. Chip always said that the migration itself was endangered but not necessarily the butterfly. There are non-migrating populations of the butterfly. Since they are insects they can display rather rapid swings in population from one season to the next so maybe my granddaughters will someday get to experience the kind of migration that KABT members documented with their tagging efforts over the last 20 years. I sure hope so. What is the cause of all this introspection? Well look what Carol (my wife) found in her very small butterfly garden this evening.
One doesn’t often find two 5th instar larvae so close to each other. (They are running out of foliage on this Asclepias currasavica) Perhaps monarch predators and parasites are also suffering a down year. That would make some sense and perhaps that might help explain two larvae. These larvae will get to finish out their life cycle under nets until they are ready to migrate.